Tracey Carrillo, assistant director of campus farm operations, demonstrates a biodiesel processor donated by Cotton Inc. as part of its Circle of Cotton Sustainability project.
In a unique and exciting partnership, NMSU Leyendecker Plant Science Research Center, Sodexo Campus Services and Cotton Incorporated are combining their expertise and resources in agricultural research, food preparation, recycling and alternative fuel production to enhance the universitys sustainability efforts.
Through this collaboration, cottonseed oil used for cooking in campus dining facilities is getting recycled as fuel for two campus vehicles.
At NMSUs Leyendecker and Artesia agricultural science centers, researchers are exploring the viability of glandless cotton as a New Mexico crop.
If successful, the research will result in cotton cultivars that compete in lint production with standard varieties, and whose seeds can be processed more economically into food and feed products.
The research is supported, in part, by grants from Cotton Inc., a U.S.-based commodity group with offices around the world.
Sodexo Campus Services, provider of food for NMSU Dining Services, is now using cottonseed oil for fryers in most of its on-campus dining facilities. If all goes as planned, some of this oil will soon come from cotton grown at the Leyendecker science center.
After the cooking oil has been used, it is transported back to Leyendecker, where it is transformed into fuel using a biodiesel processor. The unit can process up to 50 gallons daily.
The biodiesel goes into the fuel tanks of a farm vehicle at Leyendecker and a catering vehicle used by Sodexo for campus catering orders. Both vehicles also were donated by Cotton Inc.
NMSUs manager of environmental policy and sustainability, joni newcomer, is particularly enthusiastic about the initiatives waste-reduction aspects.
This cottonseed oil-to-fuel process is a full circle, or cradle-to-cradle, technique which keeps waste in this case used food oils and their non-recyclable containers out of landfills, newcomer says. We hope that this project will draw the attention of other NMSU units and that they will move to try similar approaches to enhance sustainability at the university.